Nets get D’Angelo’d by Kobe-less Lakers
Russell Torches Brooklyn for 39 Points in L.A. as Bryant Sits Out
Brooklyn players were bummed out that Kobe Bryant was unable to play against them Tuesday night in Los Angeles, taking some of the luster off what was billed as the NBA legend’s final appearance against the Nets franchise.
If only Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell had taken the night off as well.
Russell torched the defenseless Nets for a career-best 39 points on 14-of-21 shooting, including a breathtaking 8-of-12 effort from 3-point range, as the Western Conference-worst Lakers cruised to a 107-101 win over Brooklyn at the Staples Center.
“We didn’t play well, and they got going, so it’s on us,” said Nets center Brook Lopez, who amassed 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot before fouling out with just under three minutes to play.
“We played selfish,” Lopez added. “All things considered, we still had a shot and we got some good looks. We had opportunities to get back into the game, but it just never happened.”
Neither did Bryant’s swan song appearance against the Nets, despite Brooklyn rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson presenting the 18-time All-Star with several retirement gifts prior to tip-off.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with Los Angeles and arguably the best player in the sport during his illustrious tenure, watched the game from the bench after acknowledging that a shoulder injury would force him to miss his second straight game.
The basketball sage and the rest of the crowd of 18,997 at Tinseltown’s Downtown arena instead were treated to a shooting clinic by the 20-year-old Russell who drained shot after shot at the Nets’ expense, giving them a little taste of Kobe on a night when the real thing wasn’t available.
“He just had one of those games where everything seemed to be falling in place for him,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said.
“Tonight was just my night, and it shows what we’re capable of,” Russell added after scoring the most points by an NBA rookie this season.
Brooklyn fell to 2-3 on its season-high nine-game road trip and will be back in action Friday night in Denver.
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